Council's role is to represent everyone's needs, plan for the future and carry out its approved vision.
By Jason Leach
Published January 13, 2015
I am a resident and taxpayer in Hamilton, and I live along the King West transit-lane route. I support maintaining our only transit lane, along with the simple fixes outlined by staff to bring parking back to the north curb west of Bay, and signal timing adjustments/transit signals at James Street to allow for easier car movement with buses not needing to clog the car lanes while turning left.
Transit-only lane, King and James (RTH file photo)
This is a win-win situation, especially in light of the fact that the money for these simple fixes is available in the Metrolinx Quick Wins budget for this project.
A few main points stand out to me:
This one transit lane carries as many passengers as the rest of King Street combined, and probably more if GO Transit numbers are also included.
I know the majority of Councillors ran for office to move the city forward and provide a high quality of life for all Hamiltonians, regardless of income level. Surely being the "best place to a raise a child" applies to all families, even those who can't afford to own a car.
To think a city our size only has a single two-kilometre long transit lane in 2015 shows how completely car-dependent our planning has been.
I've heard one or two comments from city hall that "we don't need transit lanes yet" because we don't yet have a Toronto-style traffic crisis. Add 100,000 new residents to Hamilton and we will. When that day comes, am I expected to believe that residents will be thrilled with the idea of giving car lanes over to transit?
City council's mandate is to lead forward, not hide behind old 20th century biases.
David Dixon, our new transit director, is a breath of fresh air, and is absolutely correct when he states we will need many more transit lanes in Hamilton, and would see even greater results on the B-Line with transit lanes the length of the route.
New York City street with bus lane and protected bike lane (Image Credit: The Source)
As was predicted during the recent election, those who said they supported bus rapid transit (BRT) instead of light rail transit (LRT) really don't support any transit improvement at all.
We had no gridlock or traffic mayhem when council pushed forward with the Linc/RHVP. Council supported those highways because it was planning for the future. It is no different with transit.
Please remember, transit riders live and work in every urban ward and neighbourhood in this city. City Hall should represent their daily needs just as much as car owners - if not more, considering the much lower strain they place on our rapidly growing infrastructure deficit.
As a resident and taxpayer, I am simply asking my elected officials to honour their own stated goals and mandates. Here are excerpts from the city's planning documents:
Transportation Master Plan: "For transit, the TMP expected transit's mode share to increase from 6% to 9% by 2011, increasing to 12% for the 2021-2031 period."
2010 HSR Five Year Plan from 2010-2015: "Possible locations for transit priority measures, including the type that should be adopted, and will need to include major dedication of road space to transit use (bus only lanes, transit only roadways) as well as transit-only signals, queue jump and by-pass lanes and transit priority turn lanes." Please Note: this was supposed to happen between 2010-2015.
Also from HSR Five Year Plan, 2010: "In addition, it is important to note that this strategic target cannot be achieved by HSR alone, and will require a paradigm shift in the way transit is viewed, planned for and funded in the City. All decisions regarding land use, finances and transportation generally will need to be viewed from the perspective of improving transit. And, to meet the City's vision and key community goals, more funding will be needed for higher service levels."
Vision 2020 this quote sums up the lack of leadership in Hamilton. This was 1997 and we're still suffering the same lack of action today: "Completed in late 1996, the Transportation Review outlines the transportation services and policies required to achieve the transportation goals of Vision 2020. It provides direction on how to balance Regional spending between roads, parking, public transportation, pedestrian and bicycling facilities. Unfortunately this report has met some resistance from the community, particularly those who are hesitate to make any changes in the existing system that may reduce convenience for automobile users. Therefore many of the recommendations of this report have yet to be approved by Regional Council."
I live in Hamilton and believe in our city's potential. Again, as a resident, I'm only asking that city council support its own stated goals and planning documents.
The rest of the province is fighting hard for their fair share of transit funding from the Ontario government. I would like my representatives to do the same.
This article is adapted from a letter to Council
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